My name is Annebet van Mameren, and I am the face behind New2NL.
I think it’s time to tell you a bit more about me and my story:
I am Dutch, married to an American, and living with our two sons in Amsterdam.
Growing up, I moved a lot around the Netherlands, and I understand the struggles families face when moving to a new area. I know what it means to leave your comfort zone and your friends and family behind in order to start all over somewhere new. I know how hard it can be to get used to a new school and a new environment.
In the last year of my university studies, I moved to Turin in Italy, and I lived and worked there in total for 2.5 years. I still consider this city as my second hometown and still have many friends there.
My mother used to work as a teacher at a school for foreign children who had to learn Dutch, and later on she worked as a coordinator who helped foreign adults to learn Dutch and prepare for the job market, so I have seen first hand how essential it is for internationals to familiarize with the habits and quirks of the people in their new country.
Living with small children in Amsterdam, a city that is home to people from 178 different countries, I started seeking connections with other international families. In doing so, I came across many people asking me for referrals for realtors, midwives or insurance companies. But the most commonly asked questions were, however, about the Dutch education system.
And so, New2NL was born, with the intention of specializing in education advice for international families and becoming more involved in helping Amsterdam’s international community find their way in their new home. Knowing that I can make a difference in my clients’ lives is the motor that keeps me going.
Getting to know my clients is important to make sure that their needs are fully met and that their personal lives in the Netherlands become easier and happier. So I decided to dig up some numbers and statistics behind the New2NL client base to get a better insight into their backgrounds, needs and family compositions, and I would love to share the results with you.
In the past 7.5 years, I have had the pleasure of working with about 700 families from various backgrounds and ‘different’ family setups: single parents, two mothers, two fathers, as well as families where one of the parents has to stay behind in their current country.
Most families still live abroad when I start working with them, and because of the different time zones, I often have client calls in the evenings. I try my utmost to make sure that everything has been arranged with their new school before they move here.
Other clients have lived in the Netherlands for a while already, but still need some help understanding the (complicated) education system.
About half of my clients are referred to me by their employers, friends, colleagues or neighbors. Others have found me by visiting my stand at a trade fair, after reading some of my articles or watching my videos, or after attending one of my seminars or webinars.
About half of my clients have two children, and many others have one child. I was surprised to discover that about 5% of them have twins, and I have also worked with a family with triplets. It can be extra challenging to find two or even three places in the same year group at a school.
A few of the clients I have worked with have had three or four children of various ages, so I have helped them arrange everything from daycare and primary school to secondary school.
Thankfully, I am usually pretty good at memorizing the names of the children, which are often difficult to pronounce for a Dutchie! The most common boys’ names are: Alexander, Leo, Oliver and Rafael. And for girls’ names, the ones I have come across most often are Olivia, Maya and Sophie/Sophia.
While Americans form the biggest group, I have also worked with many families from the United Kingdom, Turkey, Israel, South Africa, Australia, Russia and most other European countries. Many of my clients speak 2 or 3 languages at home. I have always been very fascinated by children who are fluent in multiple languages. In fact, when I was eight years old, I already decided I would have bilingual children as a grownup (true story!).
During a first call with a new client, we discuss whether a Dutch or international school would suit their family best. Many of my clients are planning on staying in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, and therefore choose a Dutch school. But if their stay is short-term, or if their children are already older, an international school is usually more suitable.
I have been lucky to meet many of these families in person and I have become good friends with some of them too! We have gone on vacation or day trips together, our children regularly have playdates and attend the same after-school activities, and occasionally the fathers go out for a drink together.
Eight years ago, I started to organize the now famous ‘New2NL Sinterklaas Party’, which we celebrate at our home with a nice group of 10 – 12 international children and their parents. Last year we unfortunately had to cancel, but I hope to resume this party this December.
Unfortunately, some of these families have found themselves in tough situations. The ongoing pandemic has created a lot of challenges for families moving abroad. For example, the continuing travel restrictions have caused some clients to be separated from their families for months. And Dutch families who are hastily returning to the Netherlands after having been away for many years often feel a bit lost back in their own country.
I see it as my job to make sure their worries are taken care of, and to help them find the right schools for their children, even if they are not able to be here in person (yet).
Most of the families I have worked with chose to live in Amsterdam, but other places like Amstelveen, Utrecht, Almere, The Hague, Eindhoven, Hilversum and Haarlem are also very popular amongst internationals. I keep on expanding my network and I have become familiar with many Dutch and international schools in many different places.
I specialize in education advice for international families, but I have also created the Guide2NL partner platform. This is a one-stop shop for services that make the professional and personal lives of internationals in the Netherlands easier, more productive and more enjoyable.
Are you moving to the Netherlands too? On my website www.new2nl.com you can find many resources which will help you navigate the Dutch education system. If you would like personal assistance, please book a call through https://new2nl.com/families.
I look forward to working with you and getting to know your family!